It All Adds Up to Unneeded Legislation, Wasted DollarsPosted 8/11/2005
By Denny Kahler, AAM
In case you haven't noticed, last year's Right to Repair legislation, H.R. 2735, has been reintroduced as H.R. 2048, the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act of 2005. The scaled-down version was introduced by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and drops some controversial provisions of the prior bill, including Private Right of Action, parts information and vague Federal Trade Commission enforcement clauses.
ASA continues to believe further legislation is simply not needed. The established system for information availability and access to equipment and training is working. In all of 2004, it is estimated that 451 million repair functions were completed. In that same year, only 48 complaints were filed with the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) for missing or unavailable information or equipment. Every one of these complaints was satisfactorily resolved. NASTF is an industry success story! (For complete details on Right to Repair, recent testimony and background information, I suggest spending some time on www.TakingTheHill.com.)
I find one observation quite interesting. Of the shop owners who generate complaints to support further legislation, most are somehow unaware or simply refuse to use the systems in place and readily available to them. NASTF - www.nastf.org - is the source for access to all manufacturers' Web sites. The information contained on these sites should be the same as that obtained by the auto dealer techs. Service information, training, tooling and equipment should all be available on those sites.
Most of the sites have an access charge and offer daily, monthly or yearly subscriptions. If you are a specialty shop, subscribing to one or more sites may be the best option. For shops servicing a broad range of vehicle makes, costs may be prohibitive to subscribe to all sites. A subscription to one of the third-party information providers is the answer, as they consolidate the information from a variety of sources. Essentially, for a low monthly fee, you can have complete access to all information on all of the Web sites.
In the past year, your Mechanical Division Operations Committee has held meetings at ALLDATA in Sacramento, Calif., and at IDENTIFIX in Minneapolis, Minn. During those meetings, committee members toured their facilities including their information libraries and computer areas. These companies have complete information - both in book form and electronically - including access to all factory Web sites. Both explained during our tours that if a subscriber could not find the needed information to repair a vehicle using their product, they would supply by e-mail or fax the needed information from their library of service manuals or the manufacturers' Web sites. Twice I have used this service and received the needed information within 20 minutes. Most manufacturers now have available for purchase their scan tools and computers. Also, aftermarket scan tools are increasing in capability and are more complete in function.
There are many challenges in the service business. Years ago the most challenging ones for my shop was service information and equipment. Today we have the needed information, scanners and tools to retrieve the needed codes and diagnostic procedures to repair our customers' vehicles. The outlook for the independent service and repair market is excellent! Just imagine how great it would be if the money spent to push unneeded legislation was used instead to promote the independent service and repair industry - and drive more customers to our businesses.
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